12 APR 2009 General News Nairobi, Kenya

World champion Wakiihuri launches half marathon in Nairobi; qualifying race for Birmingham

Douglas Wakiihuri (KEN) on way to winning the 1995 World Marathon Cup (Getty Images)Douglas Wakiihuri (KEN) on way to winning the 1995 World Marathon Cup (Getty Images) © Copyright

The 1987 World Marathon champion and 1988 Olympic silver medallist Douglas Wakiihuri last week launched the creation of what is said will be Kenya's richest half marathon with the aim of attracting foreign runners and encouraging the country's best to compete in domestic events.

Sponsored by a Japanese media firm, Sotokoto Magazine, the race to be held on 24 May will take place in the Nairobi National Park, one of the country's oldest wildlife parks, just 10 minutes drive from the city centre.

Winners in men and women's races will earn US$15,000, another first in Kenya's athletics history.

Wakiihuri said the Sotokoto Nairobi Safari Half Marathon was ‘a dream come true’ for him in his vision of giving back to society. "I departed centre stage with three (major championship) medals. My time is past now and so I open a new chapter for young runners as we look for tomorrow," said Wakiihuri during the launch in Nairobi on Thursday (9) which was attended by many Olympians including 1992  Olympics 800 metres champion William Tanui.

The half marathon will act as a qualifying race for Kenyans aiming to compete in the IAAF / EDF Energy World Half Marathon Championships, Birmingham, UK, 11 October 2009. Previously the Kenyan team were selected solely on the strength of results achieved in international races outside the country.

Wakiihuri was the gold medallist in the marathon at the 1987 World Championships in Rome and the following year took the silver medal at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul. In 1989 Wakiihuri won the London Marathon and in 1990 became the New York Marathon winner, the year in which he also became Commonwealth Games champion. In 1995, Wakiihuri also triumphed at the World Marathon Cup in Athens.

Peter Njenga for the IAAF

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